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South Africa’s Unemployment Rate Tops 30%

Channels Television  
Updated June 23, 2020
Commuters wearing masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus queue at the Bara taxi rank in Soweto, Johannesburg, on June 1, 2020. South Africa moved into level three of a five-tier lockdown on June 1, 2020, to continue efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Under level three, all but high-risk sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen. Michele Spatari / AFP.

 

South Africa’s unemployment rate jumped rose one percentage point to 30.1 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the final three months of 2019, official data showed Tuesday.

The new data is a far cry from what analysts expect to be the ultimate fallout from the coronavirus which has infected more than 100,000 people in Africa’s most developed economy.

The number of unemployed came to 7.1 million, with the formal sector shedding the most jobs, StatsSA said.

“Most industries experienced job losses in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019,” the statistics agency said, adding the finance sector lost 50,000 jobs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday warned of mass job losses and “tough times” ahead as the continent’s most industrialised country braces for the economic fallout from its strict anti-coronavirus measures.

Ramaphosa imposed a strict lockdown on March 27 to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 and prepare hospitals for an expected surge in cases.

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But the move has cost the economy dearly. South Africa was already in recession when the virus arrived.

The central bank now forecasts the economy will shrink seven percent in 2020 as the economy buckles under the coronavirus pandemic.

Since last month the government has started loosening the lockdown to enable business activity to resume gradually.

“For a country such as ours, which was already facing an unemployment crisis and weak economic growth, difficult decisions and difficult days lie ahead,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

Companies, including the public broadcaster SABC, last week announced plans to lay off staff.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry has warned that the unemployment rate could rise as high as 50 percent due to the pandemic.

AFY